Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Göteborg Papers in Economic History,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economic History

No 13: Bolagsrevisorn - En studie av revisionsverksamhet under sent 1800-tal och tidigt 1900-tal. Från frivillighet till lagreglering och professionalisering.

Bengt Gärdfors ()
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Bengt Gärdfors: Department of Economic History, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: Box 720, SE 40530 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: The development of Swedish auditing, in light of the increase in legislation of limited liability companies and the international history of audit at the turn of the 20th century, is investigated. An important factor is the description of the contemporary view of control and management in trade and industry. The separation between ownership and administration made the lawmakers realise the necessity of supervision of companies, the starting point of the investigation is thus the control structures in the companies, which gradually increased. The paper evaluates the auditor´s business as affected by the introduction and development of control structures of companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries together with the developing legislation of limited liability companies. A case study investigates the auditor´s business in a number of companies in Sweden (southern Halland) from different angles, including the election of auditors as well as questions of independence, responsibility and confidentiality. The paper discusses the audit business including the use and development of memoranda and auditor´s reports. Auditors´ business experience was more important than audit practice. Their integrity was great in relation to the clients. Auditors were elected far before legislation. Audit standards gradually increased.

Keywords: Economic History; Business History; Auditing; Halland

JEL-codes: M42; N80

67 pages, March 16, 2010

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